Using foreign words - German

ScottsEnglishScottsEnglish Administrator Posts: 1,056 admin ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭
edited November 2016 in Vocabulary

Foreign words in English that you need to know.

English has taken words from almost every language that it has encountered. Here are some words that are originally German which you might read or hear on an exam:

angst means "fear", and is used to describe emotional turmoil. Example: "Modern technology has increased the angst among teenagers because they are always connected and comparing." 

kitsch means "to cover", and is often used in an arts and crafts context for something of low value. Example:  "The paper-clip sculpture, while difficult to make, was considered as kitsch by experts."

zeitgeist comes from the words "time-spirit" in German, and means a widespread feeling or cultural taste. Example: "The film producer carefully chose antiques in order to capture the zietgeist of the 1930s."

leitmotif is another compound word, meaning "leading motive". In English, it usually means a recurring theme, in music or other circumstances. Example: "The company's leitmotif was an expression of quality - in all of their advertising, the word appeared."

doppelganger means "double walker" or "double spirit", and the idea is that of a double of a person. Example: "Joseph Conrad uses the idea of a doppelganger in his story The Secret Sharer."

Gestalt means simply "shape, form" but in English encompasses all of the elements of a particular movement or time. Example: "The gestalt of the personal computer is now behind us; as Steve Jobs famously pronounced, the post-PC era has begun."


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